Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Banned Books vs. Religous "Types"*

For as long as there have been books, some religious "types"* (to discover what the * means, scroll down to the end) have sought to ban them. Their reasons are varied, but mostly come down to "in the bible or not / not awesome in the bible". One set of books widely critisized by various religious "organizations" is the Harry Potter series. Yet, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why? How could a book series - second in popularity only to the bible - that got hundreds of millions of children reading, possible be on the "hit list"? Various...and serious reasons, according to religious "types". Firstly, it contains witches, wizards, warlocks and all manner of supernatural creatures which are not looked upon kindly in that ol'sleepin aid - Secondly, some have argued the main character - himself, a wizard! - lacks a moral journey and progression through the books. Harry, evidently, missed out on the type of moral gravity that made the magic filled Chronicles of Narnia just dandy with the church.
Well, religious "types", prepare to be shock and awed: your arguments may be a little skewed.
First of all, have you read the bible? God is essentially a pretty powerful wizard throughout, conjuring up all kinds of crazy magic / plagues to help / smite (okay, mostly smite) various god-fearing folk. There are more fantasy elements on one page of the bible then in the entire Harry Potter series - seriously, cover to cover? People frequently live pretty amazing lifespans (hmmmm? I sense wizards at work...) and that garden of eden with its "tree of knowledge", sounds a little too sci-fi for my liking.
Secondly, to argue that Harry Potter does not go on a moral journey is incredibly flawed - but then again, you never took the time to read the series before passing summary judgement and banning it. (Editors note: Good thing religious "types" don't pass summary judgement very often!)
How can a story about a chosen one growing up to fight the ultimate evil not have a moral heart? Harry Potter, for the record, is dripping with more religious allegory than any good versus evil story has a dedicated right to: His character chooses to sacrifice himself for the redemption and survival of all his kind. Hmmm...sound like anyone you relgious "types" know?
I am willing to bet you would argue vehemently Jesus went on a "moral journey", yet you won't even concede the kid written in his image did the same? I must say, you religious "types" are sending out some mixed signals here.**
However, one of the largest mistakes you can make is to ban books, any books - specifically this series. If kids get super excited about reading good and evil stories, how long will it be before they turn to your "bible" for entertainment and not just because you force them to? Now, I am not the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world, but the books are entertaining and whatever gets children to read is awesome in my book - if not yours?
So when your (long-con pulling) religious "type" leaders, tell you what books not to read, ask them to give you a reason that actually makes sense. They can't? Interesting...
(* any time I write "types" I actually mean "nuts" - seriously, the picture of those two dudes at the top of the page was found on google by searching "religious nuts" under images)
(** I could have chosen more than a dozen examples but this one still remains the most ironic for me)

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